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API gateway comparison

Tyk vs. Kong

Are you finding it challenging to choose a vendor for your API gateway, and are you struggling to make a decision? Our team of experts has conducted a comprehensive analysis and we are here to assist you in finding the best API gateway that suits your needs.

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Relatively low
200% QPS compared to Kong
Low latency
Low latency with some tweaking
93x faster than Kong
Offers a wide range of plugins but limits most to enterprise version
Limited number of plugins
100+ open-source plugins
Plugin upgrade hot reloading
Custom development
Supports custom development in multiple languages Lua, Go, Python, Ruby and Javascript
Supports custom development in multiple languages Lua, GoLang, JavaScript and Python but with performance overheads
Supports custom development in the most multiple languages Lua, Go, JavaScript, Python, Node.js, Wasm, Java, etc
Deployment methods
On-prem, any cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid cloud
On-prem, any cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid cloud
On-prem, any cloud, multi-cloud, hybrid cloud
Vendor lock-in
The open-source project is under the control of Kong Inc. and the license can be changed
Open source project under MPL license, which is a little more restrictive
Open source, donated to the Apache Software Foundation; never worry about vendor lock-in
User support
Have commercial support but limited availability of open-source assistance
Small open source community that limits time to resolution when issues arise
Active community and issues can be resolved in time on Slack and GitHub

What to consider most when choosing the API gateway

1. High Performance

Kong is designed to handle large volumes of request traffic with minimal latency. However, its performance can suffer when there are more than a thousand routes in the gateway due to its traversal search routing approach. Tyk, on the other hand, can handle up to 5000 requests per second, which is suitable for most organizations. However, achieving optimal performance requires specific tweaks and disabling certain functions.

In comparison, Apache APISIX surpasses both Kong and Tyk in terms of performance. A comparison between APISIX 3.0 and Kong 3.0 analysis reveals that APISIX 3.0 performs approximately 140% better than Kong 3.0 when plugins are not used. When plugins are utilized, APISIX 3.0 outperforms Kong 3.0 by around 200%.

APISIX is built on top of NGINX and LuaJIT, resulting in exceptional performance, scalability, and flexibility. It boasts a single-core QPS (Queries Per Second) of 23,000 with an average delay of only 0.2 milliseconds and as an open-source API gateway, it excels in delivering outstanding performance.

2. Scalability

Kong achieves horizontal scaling by adding more nodes and connecting them to a relational database (such as PostgreSQL or Cassandra). However, relying on the relational database introduces a potential point of failure, necessitating the creation of multiple instances for high availability.

On the other hand, Tyk can be scaled by creating additional Tyk API gateway instances that connect to the same database, but this requires specific adjustments and optimizations to ensure optimal scalability. Consequently, if the relational database fails, both Kong and Tyk will be affected.

To mitigate this risk, APISIX has designed its architecture to prevent downtime and data loss. Instead of using a relational database, APISIX stores configuration data in etcd, aligning it with cloud-native architecture principles and enhancing its overall availability. When it comes to updating data, Kong relies on the database polling method, which takes 5-10 seconds to retrieve the latest configuration.

In contrast, APISIX monitors changes in the etcd configuration, allowing for real-time updates in milliseconds and since both APISIX and etcd support multi-instance deployment, ensuring there is no single point of failure.

3. Features and Plugins

Kong provides a community-driven approach and a wide selection of plugins, but many advanced features and plugins are exclusive to the Enterprise Edition. APISIX, on the other hand, offers superior capabilities compared to Kong and Tyk.

It supports essential functionalities such as plugin ordering, deep WebSocket and OpenID Connect support, and FIPS 140-2 compliance, which are not readily available in Kong's open-source version. While Tyk allows the creation of custom plugins in various languages, its plugin selection is more limited due to its reliance on the parent company's development efforts and a smaller open-source community.

In contrast, APISIX stands out by providing a comprehensive set of features and plugins that cater to the needs of cloud-native applications, microservices, and containerization. These features include dynamic routing, hot reloading, canary release, rate limiting, and service observability.

With its active and dedicated community, APISIX ensures continuous development and maintenance of its plugins, giving users the flexibility to customize their API gateway according to specific requirements. This level of flexibility and extensive plugin support makes APISIX a compelling choice for organizations looking to leverage advanced API management capabilities.

4. Vendor Lock-in

Kong provides a self-hosted open-source solution, but since it's owned by a company, there is a possibility that its licensing may change or become closed-source in the future. This could lead to vendor lock-in, making it difficult for users to switch to another provider without significant effort.

On the other hand, Tyk offers an open-source version, but it operates under the Mozilla Public License (MPL), which has certain restrictions. Additionally, Tyk is predominantly developed by its parent company, which might introduce concerns related to the company's long-term commitment to the open-source version and the potential impact on future development and support.

If you want to avoid getting tied to a specific vendor, APISIX is an excellent option. APISIX is an open-source API gateway owned by the Apache Software Foundation and licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. This means that anyone can access and freely use, modify, and distribute APISIX's source code. This gives users the confidence that they can continue to utilize and customize the software without being restricted to a particular vendor's services.

5. Ecosystem and Growth

The open-source version of Kong has a larger community compared to Tyk, but it doesn't provide the same level of support and maintenance as the Enterprise version. This means that it takes longer to resolve issues and challenges when using Kong.

Tyk, on the other hand, has a much smaller open source community leading to fewer contributions in terms of bug fixes, new features, and enhancements.

In contrast, Apache APISIX has maintained an excellent growth rate from the first day and is growing rapidly at a rate close to twice that of Kong. It has more contributors than Kong, indicating its popularity. This active community involvement not only shows the widespread adoption of Apache APISIX but also reflects the collective effort to drive its development and continuous improvement.

6. Customer Satisfaction

Kong's licensing model includes an Enterprise Edition that provides additional features and support. This separation of functionality between the open-source and Enterprise Editions leads to customer dissatisfaction, especially if desired features are only available in the paid version.

Similarly, there is a limited selection of plugins and features available in Tyk's open-source version. This limitation in plugin options restricts users' ability to customize and enhance their API gateway according to their specific needs and requirements.

In contrast, Apache APISIX, an open-source API Gateway, offers a comprehensive set of features and capabilities for users to access without additional costs or restrictions.

The open-source nature of APISIX encourages active contributions from a diverse community of developers, leading to continuous improvements, bug fixes, and new features, ensuring that APISIX remains up-to-date and responsive to the evolving needs of users. APISIX has also gained significant popularity and adoption among renowned companies such as Amber Group, Airwallex, zoom, vivo, iQIYI, and others, serving as a testament to its reliability and effectiveness in real-world applications.

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